2013 Seoul Crime Rates: Rape in Gwanak, Drugs in Gangnam

A year-end review of crime rates in Seoul found that you are most likely to be attacked by teenagers in Nowon, raped in Gwanak, and murdered in Kangseo. In each district, officials blamed the number of hagwon students, single women living alone, and foreigners for the unusually high incidents of the particular crime.

Netizens didn’t blame any one group in particular, but cautioned that it is dangerous for a woman to be alone in Seoul. Out of all the districts in Seoul, Gwanak reported the highest number of rape cases, 293, out of a population of 521,000, While Gangnam had the highest number of drug offenses, 129, out of a population of 528,000.

Article from Seoul Shinmun:

Changing Crime Trends in Seoul: South and West End – Violent Crime, Itaewon – Drugs

map of crime rates within Seoul

map of crime rates within Seoul

Crime rates in Seoul this year indicate that cases of rape and sexual assault happened most frequently in Gwanak District, where many single women live alone. Murder and rape cases happened most often in Gangseo District, drug-related crimes in Gangnam, and youth crime occurred most in Nowon District.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency published a report on the 22nd of November documenting the rates of seven major crimes (murder, burglary, rape, sexual assault, theft, assault/violence, arson, and drug related offenses) in the 25 districts in Seoul from the months of January to September. There were 293 reported cases of rape and sexual assault in Gwanak District. In comparison, there were 240 cases reported in Gangnam District, an area known for its transient population and entertainment venues. That is a 22.1% difference.

Seoul Police found that the high rate of sex-related crimes in Gwanak was due to the high numbers of single women living alone in the district. A full quarter of the district’s households are women living alone. In 2010, there were 217,359 households in Gwanak and a full 31.3% of these (67,926) were headed by women.

Drug-related offenses were reported most in the Gangnam and Yongsan Districts, home to many nightclubs. In Gangnam, 129 drug-related crimes were reported. Seoul Police divide the city into 31 reporting areas and Gangnam’s drug offenses accounted for 18.8% of the total 686 cases reported for the period. Yongsan’s 48 reported drug-related crimes made Yongsan number two in the category. The party district of Itaewon is found in Yongsan. A Gangnam District representative is quoted as saying “drugs are usually distributed through the club network, in Gangnam, foreign students and club operators tend to be involved in the drug trade, a relatively easy way to make money.”

Cases of arson were most commonly reported in the northeastern Jungrang District, amounting to 15 separate cases. Police in Jungrang say that the high number of separate single homes in the district may be a factor. According to the 2010 National Population and Housing Census, 27.5% of homes in the district were single-family, detached homes. Jongno District contains many high end homes, the second highest number among all city districts. Gyeonggi University Criminal Psychology professor Lee Su-jeong explains “arson without aim or purpose was usually found to have taken place in garbage disposal areas of houses, there are a lot of flammable materials there and this results in cases of serial arson.”

Among the seven major crimes reported, those involving youthful suspects occurred most often in the Nowon District with 591 cases, out of the 4028 total reported crimes in the area (10th highest number out of the 25 districts). The reason for the high number of youth offenders is said to be the high number of private learning institutions in the area. A representative from Nowon is quoted as saying “although 100,000 youth are in the district, the financial intersection in Junggye Dong contains a lot of hagwons which attract youths from outside of the area and this results in an increase of youth crime.”

Murders happened most often in the Gangseo District (21 cases) and Yeongdeungpo District (11 cases). Gangseo also lead the city with 24 violent robberies. Yeongdeungpo reported 2583 cases of violent assaults, also the highest number in Seoul. These districts are found in the southwest part of the city and house many low income citizens and foreign workers. Analysts are saying that this may be a reason for the high number of violent crimes there. Dongguk University Police Administration professor Kwak Dae-gyung explains “there are many foreign residents that have yet to adapt to Korean society and citizens lower in the economic strata in these areas, there’s trouble in terms of economic competition and a lengthy period of cultural assimilation that leads to people committing violent crimes out of frustration and the need for frequent police action.”

Looking at the combined statistics for the seven high priority crimes, Gwanak District reported the most total cases with 5554, Songpa (5356), Yongdeungpo (5221), and Gangnam had (4721).

Comments from Naver:


Drug offenders are messing up themselves with their own money…. But when it comes to murder and sex-related crimes, I hope they care more about public safety…. They should spend more money on that instead of wasting money on MOGEF.


That’s why people want to live in an affluent neighborhood.


Southwest areas such as Yeongdeungpo, Geumcheon, Guro and Gwanak are not livable. It’s dangerous there because they are habitats for a large number of foreign laborers and Korean-Chinese.


Bring back the Samchung Re-education Camp.


This place will soon turn into a battlefield.


I get surprised whenever I take the subway in Gwanak, Guro or Shindorim. Whereas Gangnam has a pleasant and clean image, those places look spooky, gloomy and dirty just like an industrial zone in the 80s.


As a person who lived in Gwanak before, I don’t know about men but I can say it is a very scary place for a woman to live alone.


Young ladies, the Gwanghwamun area has the best public safety. There are the Blue House, government buildings and embassies there. It is the most safe because there are a lot of policemen in the area. It is central Seoul so there are good public facilities. You can easily enjoy your leisure time in places like Samcheong-dong, Insa-dong, Jongro, Myeong-dong, etc. Also, it is pleasant there because the air is fresh near Mt. Bukak and Inwang which are the foot of Mt. Bukhan and there are many parks. It is also convenient to go anywhere from there because It is a transport center. Even if you have to pay 100,000 or 200,000 more won per month, it is better to live there like a human. You will feel comfortable and be able to focus on your work…


Please tighten up punishment.


I heard there are many criminals among foreign laborers but Kim Dae-jung lifted regulations on them too much. Please kick them out as soon as possible so we can live in peace, fack.

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